The influencers of today and tomorrow can no longer be reached through mainstream, traditional methods. In order to reach them with positions, concepts, ideas or products, participants must use the language of the new age of information. While there are more ways than ever before for all people to pursue their personal passions, and connect with others who share their interests, the challenges posed by this new reality to governments, marketers, and corporations are tremendous.
This is what we know about the new participant in the age of information (based on comprehensive global study conducted by the Brand Asset Valuator: www.bav.com), the world’s largest data-base on brands, maintained by advertising giant Y&R. The study identified the new emerging “Generation World”):
1. Prosumers spend more hours online than any other group in history. The BAV researchers estimate their number at 40 percent of the world population (and 30 percent of BRIC countries).
2. Prosumers receive the overwhelming majority of their information from an unprecedented wide variety of online sources. They actively choose who to follow and connect with. If they were to have a slogan, it would probably be "My World, My Choice.”
3. They tend to be younger (although they do not necessarily have to be young, it is more of a mindset than chronological age).
4. Prosumers strongly believe in connectivity. They believe technology is empowering. They follow gadgets and innovation like no other group.
5. They demand privacy and transparency at the same time (BAV researchers aptly described this phenomenon as “tensity” – the ability to comfortably function in a state of constant “tension” between two conflicting factors). Prosumers can comfortably function in zones of uncertainty. Generally, they see themselves as “works in progress,” not necessarily looking to have definitive answers to every question.
7. Their national identity is eroding. At the same time, their local identity (specifically urban) is on the rise. They have more in common with other like-minded people across the ocean than their next-door neighbors whose areas of interest are far removed. To them, the world is one global community, ever expanding. This is not to say that nationalism is gone. Nationalism is just one form of national identity (others may include patriotism, for example). In fact, there is evidence to support the claim that in some places nationalism is on the rise in its local formation (such as in the recent cases of Kurdistan & Catalonia). The prosumer is intensely engaged in conversations about identity, all forms of identity, that are essentially value-based and issue-driven. They spend time, resources and energy in the study of their own identity, family and DNA more than other group in history.
8. The prosumers have developed a profound mistrust when it comes to institutions: governments, corporations and political establishments. Governments, once viewed as parental institutions, are now being viewed with suspicion, if not ridicule. They would rather trust their peers than official representatives. That explains the dramatic rise of social networks.
9. To successfully reach the prosumers, one cannot just simply invite them into their world by unilaterally disseminating a message, which is precisely what governments still do. Governments tend to simply disseminate and communicate their message, with little regard as to the needs and experiences of the participants. Very few governmental institutions bother to thoroughly study their target audience. Even fewer bother to engage in the interactivity around online conversations.
The prosumers are different. They require you to join their world. And their world is ever-expanding in the most unprecedented fashion.
Ambassador Ido Aharoni serves as a global distinguished professor at New York University’s School of International Relations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Ambassador Aharoni is a 25-year veteran of Israel’s Foreign service, a public diplomacy specialist, founder of the Brand Israel program and a well-known nation branding practitioner. He is the founder of Emerson Rigby Ltd., an Israel-based consultancy firm specializing in non-product branding and positioning. Ambassador Aharoni, who served as Israel's longest serving consul-general in New York and the tristate area for six years, oversaw the operations of Israel’s largest diplomatic mission worldwide. Ambassador Aharoni joined Israel’s Foreign Service in the summer of 1991 and held two other overseas positions in Los Angeles (1994-1998) and in New York (2001-2005). He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University (Film, TV, Sociology and Social Anthropology) and Emerson College (Master’s in Mass Communications and Media Studies). At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem he attended the special Foreign Service program in Government and Diplomacy. To reach more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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